What Our Students Are Saying

In California the population is 48% Caucasian, yet the mental health profession is 78% Caucasian. Our program seeks to respond to this reality in the following two ways:

  • First, we recruit, educate, and support graduate students who represent the communities of California. This requires a commitment to develop and offer courses and clinical experiences that reflect the cultures and communities of the students and the population of the state of California.
  • Second, we seek to equip all therapists who graduate from the CMH program with enhanced awareness of the clinical needs of diverse populations and the ability to provide services that are culturally and linguistically effective.

CIIS encourages other representation of diversity, including students from the LGBTQI community, as well as diversity in age range.

We seek (and attract) creative, motivated, mature students who have already demonstrated a strong interest in community mental health or community service. Integrity, introspection, and dedication are all essential attributes.

Our first graduating cohort includes the following alumni:

Aimee Armata

“As the manager of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at Larkin Street Youth Services, I serve transitional-age homeless and marginally housed youth in the LGBT community and youth with mental health issues.

"The MHSA programs at Larkin Street Youth Services integrate the Wellness and Recovery model supported by the Mental Health Services Act and seek to involve clients in program development and policy.

"The LGBT programs recognize that transitional-age youth are poised to be advocates for the services that they access as clients and are meaningfully engaged in as activists and organizers in the community.

“The CMH program at CIIS brings to the foreground the need and experiences of communities on the margin as central to clinical training and practice. CMH intervenes on a privatized clinical model with socially relevant and socially situated education.

“Cohort members are engaged in the community as agents of change and work to make transparent the political dimensions of psychology toward rethinking mental health treatment and intervention.”

Adriana Furuzawa

“I’ve been working as a program coordinator in a day rehabilitation program for adults with chronic and severe mental illness in Alameda County for the past four years and have been in the community mental health field for eight years.

"I have always been intrigued by the power of the community in helping individuals restructure themselves and move on with their lives after dealing with issues that challenge their natural ability to cope.

"Even in situations where people struggle with chronic illnesses and stigma, the community provides unique conditions for healing and personal growth. When I joined the CMH program, I knew this was the graduate program for me.”

Julio Gonzales-Amez

“I am currently working for a nonprofit organization, and the CMH program is helping me understand and connect with the individual who has therapeutic needs."Being Latino (Peruvian), it is important that the CMH program is preparing me for the opportunity to help people in my diverse community and unify their needs beyond the scope of their uniqueness.”

Liz Olsen

“Working in the community mental health field is challenging to be sure, yet it is also incredibly rewarding. I was looking for a way to enhance my skills and be more effective in my job working with seniors with co-occurring disorders.

"CMH is the perfect fit. A cohort model with students as diverse as our community shares learning experiences, diverse perspectives, and mutual goals—a healthy and vibrant community.  I feel blessed to be a part of this program at CIIS.”

P. Geoffery Young

“As a counselor and advocate at the residential treatment program of the Progress Foundation, and as a student, teacher, and researcher in the locally based network of clinicians involved in the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis, it is a privilege to participate in the launching of this new program.

“The CMH program aims not only at prioritizing (a step forward all on its own) but also transforming the models and criteria by which professionals are trained for and in community mental health settings. The cohort is exceptionally diverse—even global.”

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